Speaker or soundbar recommendations?

I’ve been thinking about upgrading the sound situation in my ‘pain cave.’ Up until now I’ve either been using some gen 1 AirPods or the built-in speakers on my TV (40" Insignia). The room itself is a 9x12 ft basement bedroom. I’d use the speakers either for streaming services *via my TV + Apple TV) or music (usually play this using Home Sharing via a my phone). Not really sure on budget. I guess at least under $400. Not sure if something that is $400 would be much better than say $100…

So soundbar vs speakers? Bluetooth vs wired? If speakers…floor vs bookshelf? Any specific things people have that they love?

With a trainer running and a fan as well, it would have to be a really loud speaker.

So I’d suggest headphones!


We use a couple of HomePod minis in stereo pair on the main tv we use for watching. If I was going to add speakers to my trainer entertainment tv that is the route I’d go.


Sweaty headphones? :face_vomiting:

I’ve got a set of PA speakers and a 200w power amp, no problem hearing my music.

Sounds like you will need a set of powered speakers. Now days most come with Bluetooth. Some have apple play. Key is to find ones that will connect to your tv and your apple setup. For online shopping Crutchfield has some options worth checking out.

I use an Apple tv for my entertainment while on the trainer. I’ve got a Sonos Beam (gen 1) and two Sonos One SLs setup as “surround”. I bought both the Beam and Ones on Ebay and got them far cheaper than new. I find these super easy to use with the Apple tv because I can quickly select them as the audio source. Additionally, if I want to watch a bike race on the tv and jam to music during a hard session, I can send my Spotify to the speakers via my phone. It’s been a game changer for me and having the 3 speakers in the room makes the sound pretty immersive while on the trainer.

One critical step, though, is to adjust the volume on the Sonos Ones as surrounds. I think it’s the “music” setting and I cranked it up all the way so they put out around the same volume as the Beam.

Sounds like you have the standard AirPods (without noise cancelling)?

Unless your speaker purchase is so the room can do double duty as a viewing space when the bike’s not in use then I’d suggest spending your money on AirPods Pro instead. Noise cancelling technology works really really well on consistent sounds like that of a fan, trainer, or drivetrain. I can listen to stuff at surprisingly low volume with my Pros, but could never have done that on traditional headphones before. Probably a much better solution in terms of protecting your hearing too.

(other noise cancelling earbuds would work just as well I’m sure, but if you already have Apple ones and can afford to stay in-brand then you might as well)


This is a much easier question than you think, because essentially all the solutions work. :grin:

That being said, I loathe sweaty headphones, so that option is right out.

Given what you’ve said here, I think the soundbar is your easiest and most flexible play. Nearly all of them can connect to your TV via HDMI, an optical connection, or a simple audio cable, and then also offer Bluetooth. And you can almost always get a pretty good soundbar for under $200. Two examples:

Lots of other options, for whatever you might want to do. Crutchfield is a good supplier. You can call them for advice, and their phone people are very knowledgeable and helpful.

EDIT: For the last soundbar I bought, this kit was good and convenient for hanging the soundbar under the TV:


Generally, avoid a soundbar like the plague. It’s a silly form factor for audio.

Get a set of Bluetooth enabled active monitors - something like an Edifier Active 2.0 Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers | R1855DB -【Edifier】 would be ideal and will knock any soundbar out of the park for quality.

1 Like

I’m going to strongly disagree here. I love studio monitors, mind you. My office speakers are KRK Rokit 10’s. And yes, the audio quality from a pair of separate speakers is usually going to be better if you choose your speakers well.

BUT, calling the soundbar silly is just silly. Most people don’t care about high-quality audio as much as you or I do. And if properly hung, it takes up essentially zero space and works more-than-well-enough for the HUGE majority of the popuation.

Separate speakers have to be mounted or supported somewhere, and @mhandwerk does not appear to have a lot of physical space available.

Your recommendation is good for some people. But it’s by no means true, or applicable, for everyone.


I agree. I’m not an audio expert, so I have no idea if it was user error, but watching TV through stereo speakers was damn near impossible. The dialogue was so low relative to action and music. For whatever reason, the soundbars do a good job at parsing the dialogue and giving emphasis compared to the stereo speakers.

That’s why I like having a soundbar + a set of stereos together. I seem to get the best of all worlds (music and normal tv).

I just want to give a +1 to the AirPods Pro. I can’t imagine trying to listen to speakers over the noise of a trainer, drivetrain, and a Lasko blowing at full blast in my face, but I guess maybe some people have the ability to turn their tv volume WAY up.


100%. AirPod Pro plus the below (Bluetooth transmitter/receiver) for listening to TV. It is such a better experience!



I recently got these for my desk, and have been quite happy with them. I so far have just used them in bluetooth mode, but they support line in and optical input as well. They are more than loud enough for desk use, and are likely loud enough for your application, depending on how loud your drivetrain/trainer are. I end up using some cheap earbuds for my trainer sessions, as my setup is kind of loud - I have some rocker plate squeaks that are quite persistent.
I have also used a bluetooth transmitter for TV use elsewhere, and it works well.

Don’t want to derail the thread, but I have been chasing a squeak for weeks and discovered this weekend that mine was the Rockr!! Ugh. I would have SWORN is was coming from the front end of the bike.

I took the advice that @GPLama offered in one of his videos. I went out and bought the cheapest pair of noise-cancelling bluetooth headphones I could find of adequate quality (Anker, as a personal recommendation).

I think they were about $65 bucks. Good enough to block out all the fan noise and general clatter so I can actually hear talking and quiet dialogue from video content. Inexpensive enough that if/when they fail, it’s pretty easy to go buy a replacement.


Can recommend the Bose Soundbar 2 at Costco ($180). It goes on sale every now and then… Got ours for $130.

I mean I know I came across firmly but I just can’t see the use case where a soundbar that can put out a similar quality and volume of sound is genuinely taking up that much less space than a pair of simple active bookshelf speakers.

The guy has a 40" TV set up in a 3mx4m room dedicated to riding.

Of course if I was telling him to buy an amp and floor stands e.t.c et.c. but you can wall mount a small pair of edifiers or audioengines for pennies?

How much would you have to spend on a soundbar to beat a pair of $200 edifiers? $500? 750 maybe?

Although it’s a basement, and that makes me think you could play tv/music at high volumes, I think I’m just trying to consider how noisy it makes the environment for others.

I suppose it also depends if you’re watching action films or films with lots of dialogue?

And whether you’re just using it as a pain cave for spinning, or for weight training.

Looks like you’ve got plenty of options. I’ve got used to reading subtitles!

Noise cancelling headphones don’t work well when there’s wind/air passing over them.

Y’all need quieter fans and trainers, I have a small-ish (football sized?) Sony portable speaker XB41 sitting on top of my Lasko and it gets plenty loud enough. A soundbar might be more aesthetically pleasing if you have a TV though.